Guide to an Optimized Website Launch
Creating a new website or updating an existing one gets everyone excited; newness always does. It’s a new branded look that also implies progress within your business, whether you intend it to or not. It requires more care than most tend to put into it. It’s important to develop a plan that covers the key elements and ensures a successful launch.
The common mistakes developers and business owners make when launching a new site are easy to avoid with proper planning. Stakeholders worry too much about design, not enough about taxonomy and user journey. Some think more about the homepage and little about copy and imagery for other pages. And that’s just for the website! What about all the important and timely brand marketing surrounding a launch? Your introductory comms strategy is just as integral.
Two experts at SRB Communications weigh in on what it takes to execute an optimized and branded launch for your website.
Identify Website Taxonomy
Business owners sometimes don’t think past the homepage, which is just the shiny front door of your site. What is the user experience you want to create for the audience you need to target? How does that play out in a logical manner with content that already exists or needs to be generated? To us, one of the first steps includes bucketing content and looking at where (and if) it intersects throughout other areas of your website. This is something to look at with your engagement team and web developers to ensure cross-functional capability.
Apply Content Marketing
Surprisingly to anyone who doesn’t actively work with website development, copy is the HARDEST part for most organizations when it comes to getting a website launched. Many stakeholders must weigh in, business owners may not have as much time to copywrite as they think they do, etc. I advise to let the SEO/digital subject matter expert (SME) take a crack at some of initial copy for basic pages (Homepage, About, Products/Services) as those pages need to be heavily optimized to be recognized by Google and indexed accordingly.
For the copy itself, have a little creative fun with it! Content marketing sets the tone of what your business is about – image assets that showcase your team give a personal feel. The language you use lets users determine if you’re modern or not. Even if you put up lengthy information such as research and case studies, make sure that your copy is succinct and to the point. On the same point, if you have too little copy for a page, you might want to evaluate what value that page adds to your site – if any.
Infuse Copy with SEO
Words are just words unless you add Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Search engines have to read your website to determine if what your business says it does/sells ACTUALLY does or sells those things and serves it to users accordingly. It’s basically a game to infuse website copy with important keywords your business already does or should rank for. What exactly should be optimized? Definitely H1s and H2s on every landing page throughout, alt text should be applied to images, and keywords that you use in copy should also be applied in meta tags and descriptions. Don’t forget other things like making sure everything works on both desktop and mobile.
If you’re updating an existing website, don’t forget to map out the redirects from your old one! It can impact your site ranking negatively if you don’t. Redirects let search engines know to send users from the old location of your content to the new one. 301 redirects are the most common, and if it’s not intuitive of how to do this, your web developer definitely knows how.
Now that we’ve talked about the technical side of your new site, it’s time to talk all things promotion!
The Branded Launch
Conceptualize the Strategy
You should start planning your promotional strategy the moment you start redesigning your website. It is imperative to note that without a proper marketing and PR strategy to accompany the launch, your efforts may not get the immediate output you desire. In February, we launched our new logo and ever since then we’ve been planning the strategy for our new website launch. Yes, you heard it correctly, we’ve been planning all of this for the past six months! Granted, this wasn’t at the forefront of our to-do lists, but the team was certainly intentional about meeting periodically to discuss our strategy.
Set Goals and Aim High
What’s a strategy if you don’t have it tied to specific goals for your company? Early on in our process the SRB team sat down for a strategic planning meeting to determine several things that would drive our strategy. Where was our company last year? Where are we now? Where do we want to go? From there, our answers not only helped us determine what our new website needed to capture and showcase, but it also helped us frame our PR strategy [CM1] in a way that would secure the desired attention we wanted to obtain.
Generate Unique Content
We all know about the infamous “paid, earned and owned media” love triangle, right? Well that shouldn’t only be considered for your clients. Don’t shy away from investing in your business, especially if it will help position your content or business in front of your desired target audiences at the right time. Our team created cross-channel content that was all strategically released around launch time. Keep reading for an inside scoop on SRB’s strategy:
Solidify Brand Look and Feel
Our new website is a much more modern representation of what SRB Communications has evolved into in year 2021. It was important that we also utilized elements of the new branding on our website to update and revamp our existing social and digital presence. We redesigned our social media headers and our newsletter template to ensure the revised experience users would now see on srbcommunications.com was reflected in all our communications channels.
Internal Stakeholder Support
When making any type of big announcement on behalf of a company, you certainly want to have your biggest supporters in on the action! Encourage employees to share and engage with your social media posts, spread the news to their unique contacts and colleagues, and publicly show their support and excitement for this milestone. This will display great employee engagement, heighten company morale and make others even more excited.
Let the Launch Day Commence
So, you’ve made it to launch day! Whew, what a journey. Now it is time to strategically release all your promotional components at times that will garner the best engagement. Email your press release, remember to copy and paste your text into the body of an email, never send an attachment. Post your social media and add in those hashtags. Deploy your newsletter. Timing is key!
A great tip we’ve always heard in the communications industry is “Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them and then tell them what you've told them.” Want to know how that translates into your website launch? First, tell them that it’s coming, as we did with our advanced social media countdown and our email marketing campaign. Second, tell them that it’s “live,” as we did on launch day with our social media, video promo, newsletter and press release. Third, don’t stop promoting the new site once it’s “live.” Tell them again to remind people who may not have seen it. We will do that with more social in the coming weeks, the final two parts of the email marketing campaign we mentioned earlier, and post-launch media pitches that tie in our new website!
The opportunities are truly endless when it comes to your branded launch. The moral of the story is, do what is unique to you and your brand. Let this moment and your launch efforts be reflective of what you want your target audiences to now think of you as. Are you a PR agency? If so, your PR efforts should be top tier for this announcement. Video experts? The promotional video should be absolutely dynamic and short enough to grab and keep viewers’ attention. Have a passion for multicultural marketing and diversity, equity and inclusion? Your website, samples of work and all that your agency stands for – beyond the heightened interest in this topic over the past year – should genuinely reflect that.
We had a blast redesigning our new website over the past six months and had even more fun planning and executing the PR and marketing strategy for this milestone. It was a great way to conclude the celebration of our 31st year in business. Look out for what is next with SRB!
- Amber Bentley, Vice President of Marketing and Communications
- Catherine McClary, Senior Digital Marketing Manager